Teachers, parents should be role models instead of athletes

By Etheria Modacure

When I was 10, I told my grandmother I wanted to attend the University of North Carolina when I got older. She asked why, and I told her it was because Michael Jordan went there. She asked me if I would take the same classes as him, walk like him, talk like him and jump like him.

I had no answer to any of those questions, so I just shrugged my shoulders like Jordan did in the 1992 NBA Finals against the Portland Trailblazers. The reason for my grandmother’s questions was to tell me I shouldn’t follow the footsteps of athletes because they’re on television, in magazines, live in luxurious homes and drive nice cars.

As I got older, I grew from admiring athletes to understanding the game they play is just a business in this country, and most pros don’t want to be anyone’s role model.

Charles Barkley, for example, did a commercial in the early ’90s to explain how he was not a role model. Barkley said just because he can dunk a basketball, it doesn’t give him the ability to raise anyone’s children. He said parents should be role models and justifiably so.

Why should I tell my future children to not look up to me as a great example of character, work ethic and determination but instead idolize LeBron James and Derrick Rose? I would never tell any youngster to aspire to be like professional athletes if these men or women don’t want to be a guiding light.

As Americans, we place these so-called superstars on platforms higher than they could ever achieve. We want athletes to be caring, show emotion and display great character 24 hours a day, year-round.

That’s impossible for them to ever accomplish or accept. I understand fans have the right to cheer or boo anyone they want, but when does being a fan and obsessing about someone’s every move become a problem?

I can’t believe how many kids in inner-city neighborhoods have hoop dreams and no other goals after that. There are too many children given the impression that just because James can dunk a basketball or Carsten Charles “CC” Sabathia can throw a fastball they should be the people they look up to as role models.

What about the mailman or corner store owner who has sacrificed a lot to operate a business? If you don’t have the same dedication as most of these elite athletes do, how do you expect to have the same success they have?

I looked at most of my teachers in high school as role models when I got older because they were doing something they truly loved for a miniscule salary. I also admired the passion some police officers have and the amount of other jobs they work to feed their families.

When James made his announcement to sign with the Miami Heat last summer, a lot of people were outraged. Some fans even burned his jersey on national television. How do you explain to children when role models have the shirts off their backs burned by fans?

When reasonable role models are in a person’s life, there is no shortage of goals that can be accomplished.

Most parents or teachers can give the best advice at any given moment. Athletes, on the other hand, normally speak when they want to sell shoes, jerseys or are interviewed about a game-winning shot.

I don’t recall Frank Thomas telling children to stay in school unless it was for a commercial.

What really gets under my skin is the NBA Cares campaign, where Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade said they’re not being charitable to be recognized. I disagree with that statement.

I understand there are some athletes who believe in giving back to the community and helping kids stay on the right track, but if they were being genuinely charitable, they wouldn’t need to broadcast it.

I would like to take this opportunity to express that as fans, we shouldn’t place professional athletes in such high regard when the only time they want our support is when we buy their shoes.

When players win championships, it isn’t for fans but instead the organization they’re part of. When parents give their kids a new video game or buy them a car it’s theirs. No one can take away the effect of a positive role model in someone’s life, but an athlete can always switch teams. Why would anyone want a figure who could leave when his contract is up?